The US intelligence agencies tasked with uncovering the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are divided on the so-called “lab leak” hypothesis, with four of the five agencies drawing a conclusion saying that the virus was transmitted from an infected animal to a human host, while the fifth agency is leaning towards the lab-leak scenario. However, all five agencies believe that the coronavirus was not engineered as a bioweapon, and that the Chinese government was unaware of the virus before the December 2019 outbreak in Wuhan.

These findings were released in an unclassified summary on August 26, the result of an investigation ordered by the White House in late May. Although the individual agencies and their respective findings are not identified in the release, eight agencies, along with the National Intelligence Council, are said to have investigated the issue, although three of them “remain unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information.” Along with the four agencies in favor of the natural-transmission origin, the National Intelligence Council believes “with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus—a virus that probably would be more than 99 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2,” possibly referring to a bat-borne coronavirus found in China’s Yunnan province that is 96% similar to the COVID-19 coronavirus. These agencies cite “China’s officials’ lack of foreknowledge, the numerous vectors for natural exposure,” and other factors as the main reasons behind the likelihood of the zoonotic (animal-origin) of the disease.

The report says that the lone agency in favor of the lab-leak hypothesis made their conclusion “with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” The agency reported that such a scenario “give[s] weight to the inherently risky nature of work on coronaviruses.”

The report points out that these findings are not conclusive, and that the intelligence community will be unable to provide a proper assessment of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 unless new information on the subject comes to light. “The IC—and the global scientific community—lacks clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest COVID-19 cases.  If we obtain information on the earliest cases that identified a location of interest or occupational exposure, it may alter our evaluation of hypotheses.”

The summary says that the cooperation of the Chinese government would most likely be required to reach a proper conclusion; however, Chinese officials have been resistant to such an investigation, to the point of refusing to participate in the second phase of the World Health Organization’s investigation into the matter.

“Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States,” according to the report’s summary. “These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.”

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  1. These conclusions seem reasonable, *if* these US agencies had sufficient security clearance to see all the data that the US has collected on this subject. My own impression is that COVID-19 came from an animal in China, *not* a lab. Which animal? Well, it has to be a mammal, so my suggestion to a virologist on medical Twitter was and is “a marine mammal.”

    Failing a more thorough on-the-ground investigation in China, in a perfect world, Dreamland could ask that question of a psychic. Keep in mind, however, that psychics average an accuracy rate of 62% when it’s their own opinion, but 100% when they consult the Akashic records … I don’t know if there’s a way to verify which source the psychic is using, but some psychics may be able to tell you what source they are using to answer that question.

  2. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe made some predictions in 2019 of viruses and bacteria making their way to Earth from outer space. Of course, most people thought he was off his rocker. Scientists propose ideas about ‘panspermia’ and no one laughs, yet no one wants to take seriously the his idea that a pandemic could be induced by comets and asteroids.

    “On November 25th, 2019, Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe made the following stark warning, weeks before the coronavirus emerged.

    On the basis of this data, there appears to be a prima facie case for expecting new viral strains to emerge over the coming months and so it would be prudent for Public Health Authorities the world over to be vigilant and prepared for any necessary action. We need hardly to be reminded that the spectre of the 1918 devastating influenza pandemic stares us in the face from across a century.

    Chandra Wickramasinghe, Current Science, November 25, 2019 [See published notification “Space Weather and pandemic warnings?“

    …And they do not know how white-tailed deer in the wild in Ohio and Michigan tested positive for COVID anti-bodies:

    We need to acknowledge the possibilities, as crazy as they may sound, but it seems like few scientists are willing to go there—just like with UFOs.

    1. I’m open to the general theory of panspermia, but I don’t see evidence of such in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.
      There are hundreds of coronaviruses affecting mammals and birds, including six previously known ones affecting humans. SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, is very closely related to SARS-CoV, the virus which causes the more lethal respiratory illness SARS (and which is known to have originated in bats).
      A pathogen with an exterrestrial origin would be more genetically novel, and not so clearly and closely related to an existing viral clade.

      1. I agree, which is why I’m keeping an open mind, while acknowledging ‘possibilities’. No one has reached real clarity on COVID’s origins, or even when it began circulating among the human population. Using my own mother as an example, she came down with some kind of respiratory virus in early January, 2020. She lives in a rural area of Texas, was 90 at the time, and no travel outside of her area. As most of us are aware, doctors often make a diagnosis of “…It’s just some virus going around.” Months later, my mother revealed that her sense of smell and taste had disappeared, and began when she had the virus in January. I feel that it was the luck of the draw that the U.S. didn’t really sit up and take notice of COVID until it hit a particularly vulnerable population of people in a nursing facility in Seattle. They have since identified the earliest known case resulting in death in the U.S. as a person in Kansas on January 9th, 2020, over a month before the first death reported in the Seattle facility on February 29, 2020.
        COVID had to have been circulating longer than they know, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got a foothold here during the holiday season from November-December of 2019.

  3. COSMICLIBRARIAN and everyone, at this point I’m unwilling to rule out any factors that may have caused or contributed to the emergence of COVID-19 on Earth. Thank you for these links.

  4. The CV of Dr. Chandra Wikamasinghe describes his credentials in mathematics and astronomy. I once heard mathematics described as the only hard science, so he has an impressive academic background and job experience. He is the author of many books and a longtime contributor to the international journal Nature. It’s interesting that he described the then-upcoming solar minimum (July 2019 – September 2020) as our deepest solar minimum since the era of the 1918 global Spanish Flu pandemic.

    More questions than answers are available, however, about the WordPress blogger “THE COSMIC TUSK.” Neither TUSK nor Dr. CW appear to have any academic training or real world experience with medicine, public health, virology or epidemiology. TUSK, for example, writes the word “troposphere” with a capital T; however the word troposphere has never been capitalized in any print form that I have seen. Their dismissal of the public health theories about “superspreaders” and “community transmission” is thus an unfortunate distraction from their pertinent science findings. Dr. CW, for example, describes that at a stratospheric height of 41 km, 200 million bacteria and 10-100 times more viruses were found, falling down to the Earth; now, that’s solid data for virologists to work with. But TUSK then gives an example of snakes transmitting viruses to humans, however snakes are not mammals, and so, viral transmission from snakes to humans presents a less likely scenario.

    By the way, I know the mechanical rovers on Mars are looking for bacterial samples … hopefully they will also report on viruses found, if any.

    Good response from the reader at the bottom of that blog page — checking the exterior of the International Space Station for viral samples is the way to go, in order to continue putting more flesh on the “bones” of this theory about viral origins.

    Whitley and everyone, Dr. CW’s theory about the arrival on Earth of comet fragments during energetic solar minimums is worth keeping in mind … it might encourage governments to stock up then on PPE, and might encourage private citizens to purchase a reasonable level of storable foods. Frankly, for those of us who live in earthquake country, we should have some food/water storage on hand anyway — that part is a no-brainer.

    There was a US right-wing newspaper issue published a few months ago that claimed to have documentation of a Chinese citizen who died in early October 2019 in China from what later became known as COVID-19. If so, that virus emerged in China in human beings on the early side of that 2019 solar minimum. And on the China connection, the NYTimes bestselling book How To Survive A Pandemic, by Michael Greger, MD, and another bestseller, The Fatal Strain, by journalist Alan Sipress, documented many illnesses (mostly viral) which originate either in China or in farmed animals (chickens, ducks, etc.) from China; why is there such a geographic connection with China if the viral materials are raining down from comets?

    I agree with the comments of Syzygy above, except what about an extraterrestrial origin for both viral clades (SARS and SARS-CoV-2)? But SARS arose well before the beginning of that solar minimum.

    The virulence of both SARS and SARS-CoV-2 also bothers me. Their extreme virulence may argue for a “made on Earth” origin. So I will keep an open mind on the “origins” of viral pandemics. We all need more data on upper atmosphere viral populations, regardless of whether they occur in Earth’s troposphere during or outside of solar minimums.

  5. yes I support checking upper atmosphere more assiduously and the outside of the space station for sure. Good ideas! yah? One family member here had Covid- like symptoms – very ill-for quite a while in 2019 and we have wondered…..

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